Jude Bellingham is at the top of Liverpool’s transfer wish-list this summer, as Jurgen Klopp looks to rebuild his midfield with the addition of the Borussia Dortmund teenager.
The issue for Liverpool however, is that Bellingham places pretty highly on the shortlist of some illustrious clubs elsewhere across Europe. Manchester City and Real Madrid are each keen on the England international and possess substantially more financial firepower than the Reds, who will need to shatter their transfer record to sign Bellingham.
Missing out on the midfielder would be a major blow given the desire to get a deal done, but where could Liverpool turn should the club’s pursuit fail?
We look at five alternatives the club could target.
Matheus Nunes is known to have admirers at Liverpool with news of the club’s interest in the midfielder emerging during the January transfer window. The Reds are understood to have considered an approach for Nunes last summer, before the 24-year-old signed for Wolves in a club-record £38m deal.
Nunes has underwhelmed since moving to the Premier League last summer, but possesses a range of attributes that will appeal to Jurgen Klopp as he restructures his side. The Portugal international carries the ball confidently in possession, as emphasised with 2.5 dribbles per 90 minutes for Sporting Lisbon last season and 3.3 per game across six Champions League appearances in 2021/22.
🚨 NEW: Matheus Nunes is highly regarded by Liverpool and he’s an option for this summer. At the age of 24, they believe he’s got real potential. #lfc [james pearce – the athletic] pic.twitter.com/uVycvfgnoR
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) March 21, 2023
Those numbers have not been replicated since his switch to Molineux, but Nunes has the raw ingredients to thrive in a Klopp midfield with a combination of high-energy and drive. His end product would need to improve – he has one assist and no goals for Wolves this season – to reach the next level, but Klopp has a long history of moulding raw talent into better players.
Pep Guardiola called Nunes ‘one of the best players in the world today’ after Manchester City’s meeting with Sporting last season and a move to Merseyside is deemed a genuine option for the midfielder this summer.
Mason Mount could be heading towards the exit door at Chelsea this summer after talks over a new contract failed to progress.
The 24-year-old will have just 12 months left on his current deal at Stamford Bridge this summer and could be made available for sale if a new deal is not agreed. Mount turned down Chelsea’s latest offer, which is understood to have fallen significantly below contracts handed out elsewhere in the squad.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 19, 2022
Mount has been an integral performer for Chelsea in recent seasons and has claimed the west London side’s Player of the Season accolade in consecutive campaigns.
Last season he produced the best numbers of his career, with 11 goals and ten assists in the Premier League. Only Mohamed Salah and Jarrod Bowen also recorded 10+ on each metric and Mount’s work-ethic and end product could suit Klopp’s system, as he looks to restore intensity back into the Reds’ engine room.
Declan Rice is expected to leave West Ham this summer with the midfielder having made no secret of his desire to compete at the top level. West Ham have insisted that it will take a British record fee to sign Rice, who has been linked with Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Still just 24, Rice has made more than 200 appearances for the Hammers and earned his 40th cap for England during the Three Lions’ win in Italy this month.
“If you add goals to Declan Rice’s game, you’re talking about a world-beater!” 🔥
“He’d definitely make Arsenal a better team. He could walk into any team.” 👀
👏 Teddy Sheringham discusses the future of West Ham star Declan Rice! pic.twitter.com/oGQmHgYtOg
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) March 23, 2023
An excellent ball-winner with an improving ability to drive forward into the final third, he would add presence and dynamism to a midfield which has been too easy to play against this season.
A lack of forward threat makes Rice a different profile of player to Bellingham, but with Fabinho’s form a concern this season the addition of the West Ham captain could solve several issues at Liverpool’s soft centre.
Celta Vigo have confirmed that there has been significant Premier League interest in Gabri Veiga following the midfielder’s breakthrough season with the Spanish side.
Veiga had started just one La Liga fixture prior to this season but has exploded during an excellent campaign for Celta, with nine goals and three assists in just 18 league starts.
The 20-year-old’s performances have attracted the attention of Real Madrid and England’s top clubs, while a €40m (£35m) release clause makes Veiga an attainable option for sides seeking midfield spark.
Celta Vigo president: “We want to keep Gabri Veiga but it will be impossible due to release clause. We know some bids he has, impossible to match”. 🚨🔵⭐️ #transfers
Release clause for 2003-born talented midfielder: €40m.
Premier League top clubs and Real are following him. pic.twitter.com/7hnMbvhmHT
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) March 23, 2023
Veiga has averaged a goal involvement every 125 minutes this season, despite the added defensive responsibility that comes with operating in a midfield two in a 4-4-2 system.
His ability to ghost into goalscoring positions would be enhanced as part of the central three that Klopp prefers, while he has shown a willingness to engage in the defensive side of the game with 4.5 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes.
Expect the midfielder to break into the Spain squad in the near future, while a big move beckons.
Khephren Thuram’s progress has Europe’s leading clubs on red-alert, with Liverpool among those said to be monitoring the midfielder.
The 21-year-old earned his first call up to the France senior squad this month, following in the footsteps of brother, Marcus, and father, Lillian.
The 6ft 4in midfielder broke into the Nice side in a defensive role, but has performed in a more advanced position this season where his dominance in duels and ability to carry the ball forward into dangerous areas has stood out in Ligue 1.
🇫🇷 Khéphren Thuram (21) vs. FC Sheriff:
☑️ 90 min
🅰️ 1 assist
🎯 46/47 passes comp
🔑 4 chances created
🔀 4/4 dribbles won
✈️ 3/3 long balls
💪 8 ball recoveries
⚔️ 7/7 duels won
🤩 3-1 win
Not even hours after getting called up to Les Bleus, Thuram is massive in the UECL. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/tBSa9eLmK7
— Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) March 17, 2023
Compared with Bellingham this season, the duo boast identical numbers for chances created (1.2) and interceptions (1.3) per 90, while the Frenchman outperforms Bellingham for take on success and pass accuracy.
Talented family, the Thurams.